so, you want to be a writer? (a conversation with myself)

5 June 2009

I sometimes feel that is a loaded question, “So, you want to be a writer?”  It’s like saying “So, what are you really going to do with your life while you pretend to be a writer?”  The whole, “how are you going to support yourself/your family?” issue.  I get it.

Being a writer is challenging — just like being any other sort of artist.  People who think they’re going to break out with a top selling novel and make millions are sort of delusional.  I’m glad they’ve got goals and are aiming high, but man, they need to be prepared that it probably won’t happen.  I mean, it’s not something you really tell a small child when they proclaim they want to be a writer when they grow up.  You pat them on the head and cheer them a long.  But for any one considering this as a career in their adulthood needs to know the risks.

So with that being said, knowing that breaking into the writing scene isn’t easy, why the hell do I want to be a writer?  Furthermore, the question I’m sure my mother is thinking, why am I going to spend money earning a degree in writing — creative writing at that, as opposed to technical writing which seems to be more stable when it comes to marketability.  Well, I’m going to answer it with the simplist, most unimaginative answer a child could give, because.  Because I want to, because I can, because I’m not half bad, because, because, because.  I’m just doing it.  Or at least, I’m going to try.

However, I can definitely say at this current stage I am not prepared for MFA level writing.  Not necessarily because I don’t have the skill, but I’m not afraid to admit that I need to work a bit more before I get back into it.  I haven’t written seriously or published anything since college.  I took an evening writing workshop offered through the university here, and that was the last time I wrote anything creative.  Having minimal writing experience outside of college (just that course and my summer working for a magazine), and not really doing much in the writing community for the past two years did not help my application or portfolio.

Dani’s been a big help, and asset, to me lately in my quest to become a writer/get back into seriously writing.  She herself is planning on applying to an MFA program soon and has basically been my personal writing and application coach through this whole process.  We’ve been discussing programs together, gone to readings, she’s even looked through my applications, essays and portfolio.  I definitely feel lucky, and am very grateful, for all the help she’s been giving me.

So beyond my amazing friend Dani helping me out, I’m also making some major steps in getting myself ready for a program.  This summer I will be in a 10 week course offered by Stanford, taught by a former Stegner Fellow.  I’m also going to retake the workshop here on campus with Dani, and attend a summer writers’ conference here as well.  So it’s looking like this could be a summer of writing for me.  And while I already feel slightly exhausted just thinking about it, I’m also getting a rush of excitement.  If I’m serious about writing, this will be a good step for me.  For someone who likes to talk and dream big, to do something concrete, to make an actual step towards one of those dreams… well, this is just huge.  And it feels great!  (Let’s just see how I feel after writing from now until the end of August…)

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